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Green Ash, A Common Tree in North America

Fraxinus pennsylvanica, The Most Common Ash Tree


Green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica), also called red ash, swamp ash, and water ash, is the most widely distributed of all the American ashes. Naturally a moist bottom land or stream bank tree, it is hardy to climatic extremes and has been widely planted in the Plains States and Canada.

The commercial supply is mostly in the South. Green ash is similar in property to white ash and they are marketed together as white ash. The large seed crops provide food to many kinds of wildlife. Due to its good form and resistance to insects and disease, it is a very popular ornamental tree.

Unfortunately, both green and white ash populations are being decimated by the emerald ash borer (EAB). Discovered in 2002 near Detroit, MI, the beetle has spread through much of the northern ash range and threatens billions of trees.

Do you have a white ash or green ash? Find out here.

1. The Silviculture of Green Ash

Green ash wood, because of its strength, hardness, high shock resistance, and excellent bending qualities, is used in specialty items such as tool handles and baseball bats but is not as desirable as white ash. It is also being widely used in revegetation of spoil banks created from strip mining. Green ash is very popular as a shade tree in residential areas because of its good form, adaptability to a wide range of sites, and relative freedom from insects and diseases. Seeds are used for food by a number of game and non-game animals and birds.

2. The Images of Green Ash

Steve Nix
Forestryimages.org provides several images of parts of green ash. The tree is a hardwood and the lineal taxonomy is Magnoliopsida > Scrophulariales > Oleaceae > Fraxinus pennyslvanica Marsh. Green ash is also commonly called red ash, swamp ash, and water ash.

3. The Range of Green Ash

Green ash extends from Cape Breton Island and Nova Scotia west to southeastern Alberta; south through central Montana, northeastern Wyoming, to southeastern Texas; and east to northwestern Florida and Georgia.

4. Green Ash at Virginia Tech

Steve Nix
Leaf: Opposite, pinnately compound with 7 to 9 serrate leaflets that are lanceolate to elliptical in shape, entire leaf is 6 to 9 inches long, green above and glabrous to silky-pubescent below.

Twig: Stout to medium texture, gray to green-brown and either glabrous or pubescent, depending on variety; leaf scars are semicircular and flat across the top, with lateral buds sitting on top of leaf scar (not down in a in notch as with white ash).

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